Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology & Biotechnology
A.1 Specialty and branding
Our department offers a wide range of programmes in Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology with diverse and unique units that enable the students to be marketable in wide variety of scientific fields. Our students acquire knowledge and skills that allow them to work in Research Institutions, Drug Companies, Science Based and Food Industries, Teaching Institutions and in the Health Services Laboratories. The department has a biosafety level 2 plant laboratory and an animal house for complementary medicine studies.
Department of Biochemistry and Biotechnology
P.O. Box 43844 – 00100
Tel: 871090 Ext. 3711
The department has three Science Laboratories each with a capacity of 50 students at any sitting. Students also have access to University Computer Laboratories.
AFFILIATED PROGRAMMES, COLLABORATIONS AND RESOURCES
None at the moment
Our department collaborates with the departments of Zoological Sciences, Plant science, Chemistry, and the School of Health Sciences.
The department collaborates with the following institutions:
1. The National Museums of Kenya (NMK)
2. Institute of Primate Research (IPR)
3. Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS)
4. Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI)
5. Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI)
6. Biosciences in East and Central Africa (BeCA) Hub
7. International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE)
8. Institute of Primate Research
9. The Government Chemist, Kenya
10. The University of Nairobi, College of Heath Sciences
11. Kenya Medical Training Centre (KMTC)
12. Mikocheni Agricultural Research Institute (MARI), Tanzania
13. Ethiopian Institute of Agriculrural Research (EIAR)
14. University of Cape Town
D.1 Academic Staff and Specializations
On enrolling in our department, you will be taught by a qualified and committed team of staff members. The staff members have qualifications in the following areas:
• Applied Biotechnology
• Nutritional Biochemistry
B.1 Existing programmes
- Bsc.( Biochemistry)
- Bsc.( Biotechnology)
- Bsc.( Forensic Science)
- Bsc.(Molecular and Cell Biology)
The department also offers Medical Biochemistry courses to first and second year students taking Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery and Bachelor of Pharmacy. The Bachelor of Science (Molecular and Cellular Biology) and Bachelor of Science (Forensic Science) were recently reviewed. The reviewed programmes take effect in the first semester of 2015/2016 Academic year.
Study mode and duration
Programmes delivery is on full time basis and the mode of study is based on the units system. The duration is 4 years comprising of 2 semesters every year. Assessment is by continuous assessment tests (accounting for 30%) and end of semester examinations (accounting for 70%).
We offer the following Master programmes:
• Master of Science (Biochemistry)
• Master of Science (Biotechnology)
• Master of Science (Medical Biochemistry)
Study mode and duration
For M.Sc. the mode of delivery is either: full time, part-time or institutional based. The mode of study is based on the units system and course duration is 2 years. Taught course work takes one year and thesis takes the second year. Assessment is by continuous assessment (accounting for 30%) and end of semester examinations (accounting for 70%) for the first year. Thesis is used for assessing the M.Sc. students in the second year.
The department has PhD students in various disciplines that are related to what we offer. The PhD degrees are based on research alone and take between 3 and 4 years. For PhD students’ evaluation is by thesis alone.
B.2 New courses
Senate approval has been given to start Postgraduate Diploma in Forensic Science and Diploma in Forensic Science courses and the first group of students will be admitted in the first semester of 2015/2016 Academic year.
a) Biosafety Level 2 Facility
We have a biosafety level 2 laboratory (about 2,000 sq ft total) approved by the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services (KEPHIS) to carry out plant genetic transformation work. In addition, there are two green houses (1000 sq ft and 600 sq ft). The lab is equipped with lamina flows, growth chambers, thermocyclers, water baths, freezers (-20 and -80), refrigerators, microfuges, microwave, hybridization ovens, pH meters, balances, a gel documentation system, autoclave, qRT-PCR machine, light microscopes and a Leica stereo microscope.
b) Animal house
The department has a 1,000 sq ft animal handling and research facility where a host of biomedical research activities are undertaken. This facility has 2 laboratories; 2 animal holding rooms equipped with cages to hold mice, rats and rabbits; dissection room; and a store. Through this facility, the department has trained a total of 42 Msc and 5 PhD graduates. Currently, the facility has 15 Msc and 3 PhD students, who are undertaking their research projects.
C.2 Research activities
The departmental faculty members are involved in a diversity of research activities that falls into two major themes:
$1a) Genetic transformation of crops and desired agronomic traits
The department undertakes research in crop trait and nutritional improvement. We partner with local, regional and international labs with focus on application of molecular biology to improve human health mainly through research on enhancing crops for resistance against biotic and abiotic constraints. Examples of current projects include: developing resistance in sorghum against the parasitic weed Striga; developing resistance for maize streak virus in maize; developing drought tolerant maize for Eastern and Central Africa; reducing levels of cyanide in cassava; developing resistance against storage pests of maize; and nutritional enhancement of maize for higher protein. The long-term strategy will be to generate crops carrying genes for tolerance to pests or drought resistance and provide this to small scale farmers. We are currently holding small scale contained trials in the lab and the best performing lines will then be good candidates for field trials in future. We will work closely with scientists from the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI), International Centre for Maize and Wheat Research (CIMMYT) to establish which crops are suitable for testing in different agro- ecological areas. The overall impact will be improved food security, sustainable agriculture and poverty alleviation.
$1b) Natural products research
Plant based herbal medicines have been used to prevent or cure diseases since the dawn of mankind. In the emerging economies herbal medication is still popular in the common population because they are thought to be safe and effective and are also affordable. However, scientific research is inevitable as a pleriminary step towards development of purified medication against a diversity of diseases. Postgraduate research activities in the department include bioscreening of medicinal plants for activities against diabetes, fever, inflammation, pain, hematological disorders, cancer and hepatoprotection following drug induced toxicity. Other investigations of herbal extracts include their antibacterial, antiviral, antiprotozoa and antifungal properties.